Approximately 40 services Airmen and Soldiers from across the nation flew in for the 2017 Northern Lightning Exercise at Volk Field Air National Guard Base, Camp Douglas, Wisconsin, to provide hot meals for the more than 6,500 participants April 27-May 12.
During the two-week stretch, the services Airmen served participants breakfast, lunch, supper, and during one of the weeks, a midnight meal.
“We were grateful to have the nationwide support,” said Senior Master Sgt. Richard Breister, 115th Fighter Wing services superintendent. “Not only did it give our unit a chance to train others on a full-service food operation, but it also gave Airmen and Soldiers from various locations a chance to learn key tasks they would need to know in a deployed environment.”
Master Sgt. Rebecca Edgren, the 115th FW food service non-commissioned officer in-charge, provided the attendees with training for the week.
“Typically in an Air Guard setting, Airmen don’t have a chance to learn what it takes to provide food service for more than two consecutive days,” she said. “This exercise gave me a chance to train them on tasks they wouldn’t normally see, like unloading the food delivery trucks, keeping track of inventory, developing menus using current food on-hand, and keeping a budget.”
In addition to learning the food service tasks and being able to serve the exercise attendees on a daily basis, the experience also gave the Airmen and Soldiers a chance to share ideas, network with one another, and build lasting relationships.
“The exercise was exhausting but also extremely rewarding,” Edgren said. “Watching them go from strangers to friends and witnessing their individual growth in their abilities was an awesome experience.”
The leadership team hopes to see several of them back next year, so they too can take a shot at training others.
“That’s the best part about this,” Breister said. “Being able to pass your knowledge to others and watching them do the same. Using our resources not only saves the exercise money, but it gives us a chance to do our jobs the way we were intended to. We not only kept all the exercise participants fed, but we also helped each other grow in our career field. There’s nothing more rewarding than that.”